Posted October 27, 2019 – Narrated by Carmen
“None know how often the hand of God is seen in a wilderness but them that rove it for a man’s life.”– Thomas Cole – luminism artist 1801-1848
There are many Acadias.
Acadia the beautiful…
Acadia the historic…
Acadia the maritime paradise…
and, Acadia the tourist haven.
Those who call it a “tourist trap” have probably only paid it a weekend visit or less.
I mean, this park has over 3.5 million visitors a year. Figure the math and stay away from Bar Harbor and the bus routes on weekends. Even with the cruise ship traffic, we never felt the crowd crush we’ve heard others complain about.
From Boothbay to Acadia is about a hundred-and-twenty mile drive. We left early and stopped for breakfast in Waldoboro.
What an honor it was to be served by Pam on the morning of her retirement day after forty years of service at Moody’s Diner. Locals were lined up outside the door to sit in her section. Lucky us to be part of the celebration!
As we continued on US Hwy 1, we gradually began to notice a change in the landscape. The usual oaks and maples, were replaced by thin pine and spruce clinging for dear life to crumbling granite bluffs. What’s this? I had expected to see a rich boreal forest.
They don’t call it Mount Desert Island for nothing.
My imagination was probably informed by the painters of the Hudson River School in the 1850’s who were known to make up for the tree deficit by inserting non-indigenous stately specimens wherever it suited the composition.
This 47,000 acre National Park is several educations in itself. It would be silly to declare that we “experienced” Acadia. That alone would take at least a year.
But in twelve short days we picked up a few basic tips:
One. Upload the trail maps before you go so you don’t have buy the paper park map. I was scolded by a ranger at the visitor’s center for photographing the map and had to delete the image. We’d pay for a digital map if they had one. Geez. What happened to Save A Tree?
Two. Keep the map with you at all times to avoid the bus routes on the weekend.
Three. The best things about Acadia are not on the paper map.
All the five-buck maps in the visitors center could never get our heads wrapped around Acadia National Park.
It’s a big place with a big story beginning with the continental glaciers that formed this paradise a few million years ago. The Wabanaki, The People of The Dawnland, dwelt there for twelve-thousand years before the Acadians arrived in the 1600’s.
War-weary Europeans, just looking for a little peace, cultivated this french-bohemian enclave, so of course it attracted artists – really, really good ones – from the Hudson River School. These painters of landscapes introduced Mount Desert Island to their patrons and clients.
Before long, the upper-classes had carved out a comfortable retreat where their families could escape the anxieties of wealth. Eventually – out of both altruism and the management of conservation through the public trust they passed it on to …
Desert Island, more than anyplace we’ve been, summoned us to just relax and be at peace.
Everywhere, we observed people under the island’s spell, grounded in a special place, eyes fixed, lost in thought.
Stillness is a travel skill we have yet to master and Acadia National Park is the perfect place to hone the art of dolce far niente (the sweetness of doing nothing).
Anyone at any level of fitness can navigate through this park and find a perfect spot to call their own … just, please, please don’t fall off of it.
But this LIB coddiwomple isn’t about relaxing. When, on occasion, we attempt to exercise our capacity for leisure, the ol’ working-class DNA hits the wall in under twenty minutes.
We envy those who can sit sphinx-like in a sand chair staring out into the blue for hours.
Is relaxing a gift, a skill or an art form?
We dunno. It’s simply not in our wheelhouse to recline with a book in a hammock, nibble an apple and listen to opera. In three and half years of camping we still don’t own a hammock.
But… yeah, we are starting to catch on to this coastal Maine lay-back life. Sure. Let’s do it!
Breakfast at an outdoor cafe …
…then, a mid-morning Carriage Trail ride to …
Jordan Pond House for an afternoon nosh of popovers and delicious cold beverages …
And, oh, the pond days …
and the beach days …
kayaking days …
and the sunsets from Cadillac Mountain.
Blueberry muffins and chowder at Jordan’s
Saison and chowder at The Barnacle
Lobster and clams at Thurston’s Lobster Pound …
Fresh seafood suppers at home …
And just puttering around in the woods, paying attention.
Thanks to the founders who rescued this place from the exploitation of probably most of their friends, Acadia’s simple pleasures are for all, if you can get in.
It’s tough to score digs, but thanks to the National park Service you don’t have to be a millionaire to do it.
Making reservations four months in advance we managed to secure four nights at Blackwoods and an additional eight nights at Seawall – dry camping only, no showers or hot water.
The sites were large but way too shady to charge our batteries with solar, so we had to depend on the generator. That was a bummer because we missed out on a lot of hiking and Bar Harbor while hanging out in the campsite during generator hours.
Next time we might try to reserve at one of the private campgrounds in Acadia.
But the silver lining was getting acquainted with both sides of the park.
Blackwoods is close to the action and nightlife of Bar Harbor, and Seawall – twenty-three miles southwest – is in the no-nonsense chill zone.
Bar Harbor has a long history of hospitality and boasts a resort atmosphere. Even the locals are excellent concierges – never too busy to help and happy to share valuable information.
The town even has a free chauffeur service. Regular bus routes stop at all of the major sites and trailheads. Even the hour+ drive from Bangor airport to Bar Harbor is virtually free during peak season on The Island Explorer.
Acadia belongs in my “someday” file.
It’s a supportive place to recreate when we might need more help … someday. Jim says I worry too much, but I think visualizing our future is empowering.
Of course, anything could happen but if, someday, we are so blessed to live so long that we have to hang up the hiking poles and throw the five-buck paper trail map in the recycle bin because our knees have called it quits … then we shall take passage to Acadia and assign ourselves to freshly painted Adirondack chairs placed side-by-side on a shaded deck overlooking the harbor.
There, we shall spend our days observing sailboats as they tack this way and that on the soft breezy afternoon tide, and from time-to-time we shall sigh,
“Ah, Acadia, Acadia, Acadia …“
If you want to see our exact route, click here.
*photos in this post (unless otherwise noted) were taken and copyrighted by Living In Beauty.
32 thoughts on “Acadia, Acadia, Acadia”
I’m kind of close by right now. In Troy NY. Beautuful leaves! Going back to hot San Diego tomorrow. Love your stories!
Hey Amy! Isn’t it beautiful! For the last couple of weeks we’ve been driving 100-150 miles south every few days – so we’re following the color south. So we’ve been in peak season for over a month now! It’s a glorious way to spend Autumn on the east coast.
Safe and Happy Travels back to San Diego.
We were in Acadia earlier this month. The highlight of our trip to the Park was to experience the first view of the sunrise in the US from atop Cadillac Mountain—a breathtaking site to behold! Had to be there around 4am for prime parking, nap in the heated car until the sunrise around 6:30. Thanks for sharing the part of the hike we were not able to take. This is a must-see place for anyone who visits the area.
Wow. So happy that you saw the sunrise. Our neighbors at Seawall saw the sunrise too. I forgot to mention that it rained for most of two days, so we missed most of the outdoor activities we planned to do. What an amazing place!
Thank you for being with us and sharing your experience! Safe and happy travels to you.
We were here earlier this month! This is one of the most beautiful places I’ve visited. Looks like you still had decent weather. Thanks so much for sharing.
We agree that Acadia is one of the most beautiful places we’ve visited. There were a few cool days, but most of them were perfect weather.
Enjoyed this article, thank you!
Thank you for being with us, J A. Yes, it’s a special place.
Safe and Happy Travels,
Another great post. Your photographs and writing keep getting better! I’m so glad you spent time on Mount Desert Island. Debbie aand I have been there twice, once on a road trip from Boston and once with our Airstream. On you travel data page I see a distinct lack of sufficient North Carolina time. Shape up guys.
Thanks Frank! We were just saying that we need some “North Carolina” time. Give Debbie hugs for us.
Wasn’t it a spectacular place? It’s one of those places that I could go on and on about:-) Absolutely Ben’s favorite place (more specifically the Schoodic Peninsula of Acadia Nat’l Park) since we’ve been on the road. And I think Moody’s has the best fried chicken we’ve ever had!! We got lucky to find it, as it was a recommendation from a local!
Christina, Yes! I must say that I was not entirely prepared for the experience. I really was not that well informed about Acadia and Bar Harbor – and still have so much to learn. FRIED CHICKEN!?!! I guess we need to go back to Moody’s. Jim had to pull me out of the little gift store in the parking
Safe and Happy travels to the McMillan Express!
Thank you for this! Love Acadia and Maine down east. I really appreciate the tips and your outlook.
Thank you Emily. Always wonderful to hear from you. My outlook isn’t always what I want it to be, but LIB and this blog help me to track my progress. These last few years on the road have accomplished wonders for me and Jim. Living among strangers has changed our perspective about many things. I do feel more hopeful and am learning to let go of things that are really not so important – little securities that are mostly illusion. Regardless of where we live, how we live and what we live in, we are all travelers. Travel demands a sacrifice of time, possessions, food preferences, sleep, fitness habits … so we are all always under the stress of adapting to something. Learning to be calm, kind and to replace the loss of comforts with the discovery of beauty in every possible moment is, perhaps, the only way. I’m still learning to do that, but making progress.
Safe & Happy Travels
Hello from Pula, Croatia!
Thank you, as always, for beautiful photos and a great narrative. I always enjoy your posts!
Safe travels, my Friends!
Kathy J Anderson
Thank you Kathy! Wonderful to hear from you, and good to hear that you’re enjoying your life abroad. I saw some of your photos on FB. Soooooo beautiful! Let’s stay in touch.
Acadia, one of my favorite National Parks…enjoy it for me too! 😊
We are trying!
Just lovely and thank you for sharing.
Kathy, glad you enjoyed it!
We absolutely adored Acadia and you’ve captured all the reasons why. We loved the views, we loved the hikes, we loved the town, we loved the food… all of it. And I completely agree with your assessment that it’s not as crowded as one might think – as long as you practice good “crowd avoidance techniques.” 🙂 Fortunately, the park is so large and so spread out, you can almost always find somewhere that is quiet. Wonderful post!
We agree with you that Acadia is a magical place. The hikes, the town, the food! It is so large that with a little planning, you can avoid the crowds and enjoy some peaceful quiet time.
Stay safe out there!
Nice article & photos of my happy place. It is a special place that has claimed & calmed the soul of many, drawing them back year after year. We have gotten adept over the years on how to avoid the crowds & find solitude in the park.
Glad you enjoyed our article and photos of your happy place. We must admit in all the years we have been traveling full-time, Acadia is a special place for us. And yes, with a little planning, it is not hard to avoid the crowds and find solitude. Thanks for your comment.
Stay safe out there!
Great write-up. We visited for a week in our pre-RV days … would be fun to return with the Airstream.
Hey David! Good to hear from you. If we go back we will probably stay at a private park with hookups so that we don’t have to run the generator during limited hours which are prime hiking hours as well. The parks are too shady to get a good solar charge. Sadly, many of the best hiking trails begin at the park. So, no great solutions for this camping snafoo. The parks could solve it by providing electrical hookups in selected sites with the option to reserve.
Thanks for sharing I haven’t been able to get up there this year and it feels like something is missing … your magical pix and txt help fill the gap
Thank you for hanging out with us Bambi. If we lived near Acadia, we’d be there every year. The parks remind us of Yosemite. No services, but near everything. A good bike and hiking poles are essential. What fun.
Safe and Happy Travels!
So happy to have tripped onto your site. Wonderful pictures, great descriptions, and data!
So glad you found us and feel that the photos, descriptions and data was helpful.
Our time in the Acadia area was one of the highlights of our 5+ years traveling full-time. It was a bucket list destination and one that we hope to be able to return to again at some point in the future.
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